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Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is the wittiest Marvel movie to date (Includes first-hand account)

With Thor not being included in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel appeared to take to social media to explain his absence via hilarious short videos about him attempting to assimilate to civilian, human life in Chris Hemsworth’s native Australia. This was followed by an amusing post-credit sequence in which the God of Thunder has an awkward sit down with Doctor Strange and a bottomless beer stein. While it seemed like the studio was just having some fun with one of its more popular characters, it turns out they were actually laying the groundwork for their latest superhero picture, Thor: Ragnarok, which takes a decidedly lighter approach to the franchise.

With no one else defending the nine realms, Thor (Hemsworth) has been travelling to them in an attempt to maintain peace. However, his greatest challenge will be protecting his home from a past threat. Hela (Cate Blanchett), Goddess of Death, has returned to Asgard and wants to extend her rule to the ends of the universe. Meanwhile Thor is trapped on a planet ruled by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who runs a gladiator arena of kidnapped warriors, which includes Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a thoughtful rock-man named Korg (Taika Waititi) … and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) just happens to be the eccentric leader’s new best friend, while his prize scavenger (Tessa Thompson) has a mysterious connection to Hela. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is doing his best to guard their people, but Thor needs to return home with or without the help of his friends.

While Tony Stark has always been a witty character and the Avengers have a good rapport, this is the first Marvel film to be genuinely clever from start to finish. It starts with what appears to be Thor breaking the fourth wall and continues with an endless stream of narrative-appropriate jokes that will have audiences laughing out loud. Although Hela and Heimdall are generally and expectedly lacking a sense of humour, there is an abundance of characters that prove more than capable of delivering a well-timed quip or straight-faced one-liner. However, none will be divulged here because part of the fun of a first watch is the spontaneity of the hilarity… just note that only one-half of those doing “Help me” can enjoy the experience.

In a strange way, it feels like there is a lot and almost nothing going on in this movie at the same time – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing… just odd. Thor is dealing with family issues regarding his dad and brother, a catastrophic threat to his planet and being beaten to a pulp by a guy he thought was his work friend. Yet the crux of the story is simple: save the Asgardian people. Everything else that occurs happens along his journey to do his duty. Thus, even though a lot of stuff takes place, which is highly entertaining, only the final stand holds actual significance.

This is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable Marvel movies ever released. The humour often stems from an understanding of who the characters are and their relationships to each other, so some of the jokes may be lost on the uninitiated; but it also feels like this film has the potential to appeal to a much larger audience. In addition to playing the alien revolutionist, Waititi directed the picture. His sense of humour combined with an obvious appreciation for the material pushes this picture over the top. The acting is spot-on as usual and everyone appears to be delighting in the opportunity to pair comedy and action while playing these incredibly engaging characters. In the end the weakest element of the film is probably Blanchett’s villain, but that’s because Hela isn’t given a fair chance to develop her character since so much of the screen time is (unapologetically) devoted to the personalities everyone already loves or will love by its conclusion (cue The Grandmaster).

And even though these post-credit sequences don’t provide any clues regarding the upcoming films, they’re still not to be missed.

Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Cate Blanchett

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